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X. SIR CHRISTOPHER MILTON, the Poet's brother. -Christopher Milton, of Reading, Esquire, and William Keech of Fleet Street, goldbeater, became bound, September 24, 1646, for the payment of £40. composition money with delinquents at Goldsmith's Hall, on the 24th of December next ensuing, “ with such other sums of money as the Honourable House of Commons shall impose as a further fine for the said Christopher Milton his delinquency." The device on the seal is a lion rampant: but there can be no doubt that this is the brother of the poet, who lived at that time at Reading
Le Neve, who never scruples to tell disagreeable truths in the plainest terms, says of him, that “ he was a lawyer in Suffolk, not a considerable one, but being a Papist was promoted at this time,” 1686: in which year he was made a Baron of the Exchequer, and knighted at Whitehall on the 25th of April, Sir John Powel of Broadway receiving the honour at the same time. Le Neve gives us this further information respecting him, that he lived at Rushmore and at Ipswich : that his wife was Thomasine, daughter of William Webber of London, who died before he was made a Baron : and that they were both buried in St. Nicholas' Parish, Ipswich. He says nothing of the three daughters of whom Dr. Birch speaks, but names his son Thomas Milton, Esquire, Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. This Thomas married Martha, daughter of
There is an engraved portrait of the elder Kimber, who died in 1755, at the age of 61. With his turn for biographical and historical writing, it is remarkable that he should have said nothing in the sermon concerning Mrs. Milton, on whose decease he descants only on “ the vanity and uncertainty of Human Life,” from James iv. 14.
Charles Fletewood, of the town of Northampton, who outlived him and became the wife of William Coward, M.D. of London and Ipswich. These particulars are from Le Neve's Knight's Pedigrees, Harl. 5802.
XI. MILTON'S LAST LONDON RESIDENCE.- This, as is well known, was in Artillery Walk or Artillery Wall, as the name is written in a record I am about to quote. It is an account of the Hearth-money of the County of Middlesex for the year ending at Lady Day 1674, where we find Milton among his neighbours in Artillery Wall arranged thus, and inhabiting a house with four hearths.
Mr. Becke, 6 hearths.
Mr. Howard, 5 hearths. Milton died in this house on Sunday the 8th of November, 1674. It may assist in determining the precise site of the house if we add, that his is the ninth house as they are set down in the roll.
II. NOTES ON SOME OF THE POETICAL WORKS.
(I.) Comus.—After the masterly and almost complete Introduction to this Poem by the united labours of Warton and Todd, I feel alarmed and almost ashamed at the thought of standing forth to offer the few notices which follow, some of them, possibly, purposely left behind by them.—In an obscure corner of historical literature may be found some particulars respecting the state of the castle and town of Ludlow, as they were just before the time when Comus was represented in the Great Hall, which no one has yet noticed. It is in the life of Richard Baxter, written by himself, and published in 1696 in a folio volume. Baxter was born in November, 1615, and when he was of age to proceed to the University, which may have been about 1630, his father was dissuaded from the design of sending him thither and induced to place him with one Mr. Richard Wickstead, who was Chaplain to the Council of the Marches, and who was allowed to have a youth with him for instruction in University learning. Baxter remained with him at Ludlow, a dissatisfied pupil, for a year and a half, which brings us pretty nearly to 1634, the year of the performance of Comus. He describes the Castle as being a great house, “ there being four Judges, the King's Attorney, the Secretary, the Clerk of the Fines, with all their servants, and all the Lord President's servants, and many more," and the town as full of temptations through the multitude of persons, councillors, attornies, officers and clerks, and “much given to tipling and excess ;” and he attributes to one friend, whose name he does not reveal, that he was saved from what he regarded the evil influences of the place, by which influences, however, he tells us his friend at last himself fell. This is the view given by a Puritan of the state of Ludlow at this period.
It appears as if this kind of dramatic entertainment constituted part of the established recreations of the Court of the Marches ; since Aubrey informs us that, in 1637, a Pastoral was acted at Ludlow, which he calls “ an exquisite piece," and he tells us that the author was — Goodwin, wḥo was an officer of the Court, “a general scholar, and had a delicate wit, was a great historian and an excellent poet;"' and he further tells us that he was the real author of “ The Journey into France," which is printed among the Poems of Bishop Corbet. “When he sat in Court he was wont to have Thuanus or Tacitus before him ; he was as fine a gentleman as any in England, though now forgot." Nor has any body, as far as I know, since thought of calling to remembrance one who thus dared to place himself in a kind of rivalry with Milton in his best days. Comparing further what Aubrey says, that he married a daughter of Sir Walter Long, of Draycot, with the very complete tabular view of the Longs, prepared by Mr. C. E. Long, it appears that his name was Ralph Goodwin, which seems to identify him with the “R. Goodwin” who has commendatory verses on Ben Jonson. We may well believe, from the way in which Aubrey speaks of him, that he is one of the many Englishmen quite forgotten, yet well deserving to be remembered.
Another poet of those times was also connected with the Court at Ludlow, and it may reasonably be presumed lent his aid in the elegant amusements at the Castle. This was Abraham France, a better known name than Goodwin, on account of his having published various works in the early period of his life. His career as an author can be traced by his published works only from 1587 to 1592, and his subsequent life is not well accounted for by the writers on the poets of those times ; but I have seen an Epithalamium which he wrote on the marriage of Sir Gervase Cutler with the Lady Magdalene Egerton, daughter of the Earl of Bridgewater, the Lord President, and one of the sisters of the three young Egertons who were the original performers of Comus.* This proves that France was alive in 1633. In à prose address to Sir Gervase Cutler, which is prefixed, he says, that he had paid the same compliment to all the Earl's other daughters on their marriages. He speaks also of the Earl as his “Lord,” meaning that he held office under him at Ludlow. This is perhaps the latest notice which is known of France.
(II.) LYCIDAS.— The unhappy event which gave occasion to this most perfect of elegies is familiar to every one; but, though much has been written on the subject, the impression is not so clear and distinct as might be desired of the person on whose death it was composed. Edward King, then, was a younger son of Sir John King, who went to Ireland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and being much employed by the Government acquired there considerable wealth. From his eldest son, Sir Robert King, descends the present Earl of Kingston and Baron Kingsborough.
* It is a manuscript very beautifully written, preserved among the collections of Dr. Nathaniel Johnston, the physician and antiquary of Pontefract, preserved at Campsall, in Yorkshire.